Our Hope is Grounded on God’s Promises

The following was contributed by Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander.

Commissioner Nancy and I visited New York City over the momentous 9/11 weekend, and, as you might imagine, our minds and hearts are filled with reflections and feelings to share with you.

It was a weekend of deep emotion, emotions too profound to reduce to mere words, but too obvious not to notice and consider. But as deep as these feelings may have been, they were not peculiar to me or any one person. They were owned and expressed in community, by the community. And while New York City, and particularly Ground Zero may have been the locus of that, in fact, the community could not be contained or defined by any artificial barriers. Instead, the whole country was present in that community. We were not alone.

As deeply as some may have hurt, and there are many who are still hurting, it was still a weekend of hopefulness. We were privileged to accompany the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Linda Bond, making here first visit to the United States since her election to that office earlier this year. She spoke at a commemorative gathering convened at the American Bible Society offices in mid-town Manhattan, where her message was just that – one of hope. I was reminded that we are a people of hope. Not hope in the sense that  ‘I hope I will get over this’, or ‘I hope things will get better’, or I hope it will not rain tomorrow’. Rather it is hope grounded in the promises of an Eternal God, who has always done “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3.20). God can be trusted, that is our conviction, even in the darkest of times.

Some may ask where was God then? where is God now? And the response of the faithful is the same now as it was then: God  is with us, sharing our grief and pain, helping us, being patient with us, as we go about our foolish ways, letting us do what we think is best, still waiting for us to turn to him, whose plan is perfect, whose love is constant, though his ways may be inscrutable.

The weekend also witnessed the entry of 39 young and younger persons to the New York City School for Officer Training coming from all over the eastern U.S., responding to the Divine call to train to become Salvation Army officers, and spend their lives in service to God and a needy world. It surely is not coincidental that the name of this particular class is ‘Proclaimers of the Resurrection.’ With the thought of death heavy on our minds, we were reminded that the possibility of resurrection still exists, because of the Resurrection of the One, even Jesus, the Son of God, who demonstrated that death need not be nor have the final word. Physical death, spiritual death, emotional death – we need not fear, because God is in control. Martin Luther says it better:

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is for ever.”

And, oh, at the conclusion of the American Bible Service service, white doves were released , as a sign of the continuing hope which is ours. A reminder that our best hopes are all found in God, and that our best efforts (perhaps our worst efforts) cannot thwart God’s care and concern for us all.